Less Desks, More PE: Looking at the Big Picture
If we're going to try to change our education system (and I really think we should), then that raises the question of how to reform it. In my view, one of the most important things is looking at the whole picture.
I was discussing education with a friend at lunch today. Though our work together isn't in education, we'd both been through the experience of briefly going into teaching, and of being incredibly frustrated by the experience. Like me, she's worked in process improvement, and so likes to look for the ways to make things better. One of her suggestions for education, was more physical education.
Her reason for this wasn't even just about improving health, though that is one potential benefit. It wasn't about improving confidence, though for more physically capable pupils it could have that effect. It is to serve as a catalyst for students to blow off steam, and to use up their excess energy so that they can sit and concentrate through their other lessons.
For me, this highlights the benefits of looking at the whole picture. One of the ways that we've gotten to the point we have with education, is by looking at subjects in isolation. We recognize that it's good for children to learn some math. And some English. And some French. And some history. And some PE. And the compartmentalized list goes on. We seldom look at how the "subjects" all add up to a lived experience. How does learning grammar rules in French help with English learning? What about how some pupils might take in more information at a desk, broken up by extended physical activity, than a five hour desk-based day? The current format of almost non-existent physical activity coupled with hours of sitting, quickly erodes into uselessness, damaging both learning and behavior.
Again, I'm not saying I have the answers. I'm not saying that lots of PE is necessarily the only, or even the best, way to break up the day. But the only way we're going to find solutions is by stepping back from the flawed system we currently have. Perhaps the value we place on this or that lesson is small potatoes, if we stop and look at the big picture.
About Andrew Knighton
I'm a writer and ex-teacher. You can find more of my writing on education at: http://www.degreediary.com/bloggers/27 I also have a blog on reading and writing: https://andrewknighton.wordpress.com/